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Cramped Petticoat Lane market a danger to public’ says trader

PUBLISHED: 22:00 20 January 2009 | UPDATED: 13:58 05 October 2010

Jam-packed Petticoat Lane and (inset) Ben Banks fearing public safety

Jam-packed Petticoat Lane and (inset) Ben Banks fearing public safety

Carmen Valino

A MARKET businessman’s long fight against Town Hall bosses who he claims are causing danger to the public’ in London’s famous Petticoat Lane is back at the High Court after a decade. Market inspectors aren’t enforcing regulations to stop some stall-holders expanding their allocated space, Benjamin Banks has told a judge

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A MARKET businessman’s long fight against Town Hall bosses who hew claims are causing danger to the public’ in London’s famous Petticoat Lane is back at the High Court after a decade.

Market inspectors aren’t enforcing regulations to stop some stall-holders expanding their allocated space, Benjamin Banks has told a judge.

Fire-engines wouldn’t get through if there was an emergency anywhere along Middlesex Street or Wentworth Street in Whitechapel which have become so clogged up with over sized’ stalls, he insists.

Traders are making the thoroughfares too narrow and creating a public safety hazard because he says Tower Hamlets council isn’t enforcing safety regulations.

The 66-year-old who rents out stalls says Petticoat Lane is losing out to rival street markets as a result.

Mr Banks won a concession from Tower Hamlets in the High Court back in July, 1998, that it would enforce regulations.

Now he is suing the authority for alleged contempt of court, claiming that it hasn’t stuck to its word.

But the council’s barrister, David Matthias, insists the Town Hall has done everything it can to ensure there is no over-sizing’ and took action against 50 traders in 2006.

“His case is misguided,” the barrister told the judge at the Royal Courts of Justice.

Mr Banks challenged the claim, demanding names and addresses of those the authority took action against. But Judge Lloyd Jones rejected his challenge.

Mr Bank said later outside the court: “If there was an accident in Petticoat Lane, the emergency services wouldn’t be able to get in to help.

“The narrow spaces between the stalls encourage petty crime and also mean mums with prams and the elderly find it difficult to move about.”

Mr Banks says the “neglect” is all part of Petticoat Lane’s decline as the East End’s famous Sunday market.

He returns to the High Court at the end of January to continue his campaign.


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